New native hedge planting

Native hedge planting providing additional autumn colour

Our new hedge planting is underway with around 100m of native Beech and Hornbeam set to replace the damaged and depleted hedge along the boundary at the County Hall/London Eye side of Jubilee Gardens.

Thanks to generous funding from The London Eye these new trees have arrived just in time to provide some spectacular autumn colour. The native hedge will keep some foliage year-round, creating visual interest as well as providing shelter, roosting, nesting and foraging opportunities for birds and small mammals right through the colder months. These native trees will also provide habitats for insects boosting biodiversity on this side of the Gardens.

The plants going in are already a substantial size so the impact is impressive and will only improve year on year as our new native hedge planting settles and establishes itself.

Native beech and Hornbeam hedge plants in a row after planting in Jubilee Gardens. Native beech and Hornbeam hedge plants in containers ready for planting in Jubilee Gardens. Native beech and Hornbeam hedge plants in a row after planting in Jubilee Gardens. Native beech and Hornbeam hedge plants in a row after planting in Jubilee Gardens.

About Beech and Hornbeam

Beech and Hornbeam typically have oval leaves which unfurl from pretty copper buds in spring. They are semi-evergreen, meaning they reliably hold their leaves except in very cold winters, with Beech’s leather-brown leaves usually hanging on until just before the new shoots appear the following spring. As native hedgerow planting, both Beech and Hornbeam are popular with wildlife — nesting birds including Great Tits, Blue Tits and Blackcaps prefer Beech, while Blackbirds, Thrushes, Finches and tiny Wrens favour Hornbeam. The catkins that appear on both Beech and Hornbeam each spring provide food for foraging birds and small mammals.

We already have a number of Beech trees but Hornbeam is a new species to Jubilee Gardens. At first glance similar-looking to Beech, Hornbeam is a tough, broadleaf tree with pale grey bark bearing vertical markings and can live for more than 300 years. Its twigs are brown-grey and slightly hairy, and with age the trunk can become twisted and ridged. Leaves are oval with pointed tips (similar to Beech leaves) but have serrated or ‘toothed’ edges, are smaller and more deeply veined. Autumn colours usually range from golden yellow to deep orange with leaves staying on branches through much of the winter. Flowers are in the form of catkins – both male and female catkins are found on the same tree. After pollination by the wind these develop into papery, green winged fruits, known as samaras.

You can find out more about other tree species in Jubilee Gardens here.

Spring newsletter 2023

Computer generated image of proposed planting scheme for Jubilee Gardens with tiered planting adding height and interest.

Our spring newsletter 2023 is live with news about our tree management approach and trees planted and removed recently, plans for our playground to be extended, updates on safety and security in the Gardens as well as our plans to enhance biodiversity.

Plus, save the date for our Summer Garden party on 14th June.

And to receive future newsletter emails directly to your inbox, sign up here.

New trees planted

Today we have planted three new trees in Jubilee Gardens.

The three trees we have planted are Field Maple Queen Elizabeth, also called Acer campestre ‘Evelyn’, a vigorous and compact deciduous tree with leaves which turn butter yellow in the autumn. It will tolerate drought and air pollution so is ideal for our city position, plus it’s small flowers are good for bees and insects.

Our new trees have been registered with the Queen’s Green Canopy, a nationwide initiative originally created to mark the Platinum Jubilee in 2022 creating a living legacy in Her Majesty’s name. This has been extended to the end of March 2023 to give people the opportunity to plant trees in memoriam to honour Her Majesty. An interactive map shows planting projects across the United Kingdom and will include the three Jubilee Gardens Field Maple Queen Elizabeth trees shortly.

Read more about the other tree species in Jubilee Gardens here.

Spring bulbs planted by volunteers

Yesterday some fantastic volunteers from Tideway planted over 6,500 spring bulbs including Crocus and Scilla in Jubilee Gardens. Bulbs usually take a couple of years to get established so we won’t see the full benefit immediately but in years to come these should bring us spring blooms which help herald the end of gloomy winter.

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Thank you to the volunteer team for all your hard work and to our friends at Bankside Open Spaces Trust for facilitating the connection!

Bumper acorn crop – is 2020 a ‘mast year’?

You may have noticed a bumper crop of acorns and beech nuts in Jubilee Gardens and other parks this year, keeping the squirrels, mice and other critters happy and well-fed. It looks likely that 2020 will be declared a ‘mast year’ – one in which there is a much heavier crop of fruits and seeds such as acorns, conkers, berries or pinecones, from certain tree species than in a normal year.

Close-up of acorns and English Oak leaf - abundance in a mast year

The reasons for this aren’t fully understood, but Andrew Smith, Director of Westonbirt, The National Arboretum told Forestry England1:

“We experienced a warm and dry spring, which are the perfect conditions for flowers to ‘set’ seeds. This, along with no late frost meant that flowers and young fruit survived into summer. The warm and moist summer has meant the nuts, fruits and berries have filled out well and are continuing to ripen nicely.”

Weather and climate do have an impact, but mast years tend to occur in cycles – for Oak trees this is usually every four years according to Smith. There is a major evolutionary advantage to mast years for the tree; producing nuts and seeds requires a lot of energy and as a result slightly stunts the tree’s growth, however, with such an abundance of seeds there is an increased likelihood that at least some of the crop will germinate into new saplings.

Another theory about the reason for mast years, according to the Woodland Trust2 is ‘predator satiation’:

“Animals like squirrels, jays, mice and badgers feed on the acorns and beech nuts. When the trees produce smaller crops for a few consecutive years, they are in effect keeping the populations of these animals in check. But during a mast year, the trees produce more food than the animals can possibly eat. This abundance causes a boom in populations of small mammals like mice. More importantly, it guarantees some will be left over to survive and grow into new trees.”

Mast years are not just one-off events for individual trees. The vast majority of trees in a particular species will have a fantastic crop all across the UK in the same year. How the trees co-ordinate this when they’re so far apart is one of nature’s many mysteries.


Find out more about the different tree species in Jubilee Gardens here.



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